Stephen Hopkins directed Predator 2 for 20th Century Fox in 1990; the sequel to John McTiernan's original hit from 1987. Although the film gained a moderate return at the box office, it failed to impress most critics at the time who
regarded it as a subpar successor to the original film.
Frustratingly, Hopkins was forced to make cuts to attain a more commercially-lucrative R rating in the United States after his initial cut of the film received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. The cut footage has never been reinstated, so the
censored R-rated version has become the standard version available to consumers for the past 26 years. In Australia, the film also received cuts before its original theatrical release, and we'll be examining these cuts in detail below. In the
following discussions, we'll be referring to the American R-rated version as the 'uncut version' for ease.
John McTiernan's Predator had previously been classified completely uncut in Australia by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) with M rating, despite its rather bloody violence. In the UK, it was initially awarded an
uncut 18 rating on film and video, but later downgraded to a 15 in 2013. When Predator 2 came in to the OFLC in late 1990, the classification board awarded it an R18+ rating; a rather harsh decision, one might argue, considering that Predator 2
is less gory than its predecessor. The OFLC's decision noted that the film featured:
Surprisingly, the consumer advice makes no reference to the rather animated sex scene or the full frontal nudity that is also present in the film. Nevertheless, Fox were none too pleased at the decision, as the R18+ rating would not permit anyone
under the age of 18 to be admitted to theatrical showings, even with a parent or adult guardian. What they were hoping for (and rightly so, after Predator received one) was an M rating, which indicated that the film was suitable for viewers aged
15 and over whilst allowing under 15s to attend. As an aside, the OFLC would introduce the MA15+ rating in 1993 to bridge the rather wide gap between the M and R18+ classifications, but this rating was not an option at the time of Predator 2's
release. So, for an M rating, Fox made cuts. Let's take a look at the scenes that were reduced.
Cut Scenes: Snorting
The first cut removes a scene of hard drug use that occurs around six minutes into the film, with the brief sight of a thug snorting cocaine being eliminated. A similar cut occurs just two minutes later, which shows another Columbian thug
snorting cocaine just before the Predator crashes through the glass ceiling above.
Cut Scenes: Arse shoving
Another cut in the M version occurs around 17 minutes into the film, when Harrigan speaks to his captain at the police station. The dialogue in the uncut version is as follows (with the cut M version removing the words in bold):
Effective immediately, federal taskforce under the direction of Special Agent Peter Keyes will be investigating criminal activities involving the trafficking and distribution of controlled substances. And you will
extend him your full cooperation.
Which means you're cutting off my dick and shoving it up my ass.
God damnit, Mike, the Feds are calling the shots on this, my hands are tied!
Cut Scenes: Hanging
Some cuts to violence occur around 24 minutes into the film during the sacrifice sequence.
For the M version, the sight of the hanging victim being stabbed in the chest was truncated, along with the sight of the man pinned against the wall being riddled with bullets. The death of another man which shows him being penetrated by the
Predator's claws and hoisted into the air was also removed.
Cut Scenes: Skinned corpse
A couple of minutes later, a cut to reduce the horror of a scene was made in the M version. In the M version, the sight of Lambert discovering a skinned corpse was removed entirely.
These cuts would appear to be the only changes that Fox made to appease the OFLC in 1990, and this cut version was passed by the OFLC with an M rating on December 18th 1990, some 12 days after the initial R18+ rating had been awarded to the uncut
version. Around 45 seconds of footage had been removed for an M rating, and the consumer advice accompanying the film stated that it contained:
Again, the mention of sex and nudity was curiously omitted.
Various websites cite other scenes in the film as having received cuts, including the addition of white flashes during the opening shootout to mask bullet impacts and the trimming of the death of Keyes. However, these scenes are present in the
Australian VHS that was also awarded an M rating in March 1991 (which is presumably identical to the cinema version, otherwise its rating would have been higher). Predator 2 was later reclassified in its M form for a VHS release in 1995, with the
OFLC noting that the film contained:
It would be another five years before Australian fans of Predator 2 finally got to see the uncut version when the initial DVD release of the film hit the shelves in Region 4 territory in early 2000. Fox had elected to use the uncut UK master for
the Australian DVD, and it was released with an R18+ rating for the first time in the country's history. 2005 saw the film receive a two-disc special edition release, and with new classification guidelines in effect, the uncut version of the film
was downgraded to a more sensible MA15+ rating, which now carried consumer advice that stated:
To date, the uncut version of Predator 2 has been available in Australia for 16 years, and is the version available to Australian buyers on Blu-ray in high definition.
Cutting Edge Video, Season Two, Episode 38: Predator 2
All articles are original works compiled by Gavin Salkeld, with occasional help from a small team of researchers. Particular thanks are due to the BBFC for their diligent and helpful explanations of their interventions.